Monday, March 29, 2010

Drew's March Update ~ The Last One

Because Drew is at New Day we are lucky and blessed to receive monthly updates on him. Below is the update is foster mom wrote for March along with a birthday picture.

Dear Friends,

We hope this note finds you doing well, and that you enjoy reading this month's update.
Drew is 4 Years Old.
Drew’s foster mom wrote this update:
Drew has been very healthy lately, and you can observe this by taking note of his chubby cheeks. You can also observe his mischievousness in his smiling eyes, and the cleverness revealed on his little mouth. He is doing well in school, and his teacher praises him often for his concentration in class.
One day, he saw his older sister coming back home. He ran in front of his sister and smiled, saying, “Sister, I missed you so much. Did you buy some wonderful things to eat?” She carried him in her arms and told him, “Yes, I bought a lot.” When they got inside, they took out the yogurt, snow rice crackers, candy, and egg rolls. Drew said, “Wow, sister, I love you. I am so happy to eat all this food you bought. Thank you. When I grow up, I will buy you wonderful foods.” His sister smiled.
He is such a sweet boy!
If you ever have any questions, please let us know. Thank you for your continued support.
New Day Staff

As I was getting ready to post this, it dawned on my that this will more than likely be the last update I post from New Day. We are only days from getting our TA for Drew (I hope), and knowing we have to be in China before May 1 for Ming, we are hoping and praying to leave here on April 14. Our only hang up is Immigration (imagine that). We know that our officer has our paperwork and all she needs to do is approve it and send it on to the next step (which is what she told me she would do on Friday, but did not). So, please pray that she is able to get to it today, and overnight it to it's next destination. If she is able to do that, there is a really good chance we could have everything back in China by the end of the week.

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Ours was pretty uneventful. We took the kids to Emma's school carnival on Friday (I will post pictures later), and on Saturday Emma and I had a girls day out, and Sunday Matt and I had a "date" day by going around and picking up last minute items for our trip. Oh, I did get the suitcases out last night and will probably start getting them ready to be filled. I am getting SO excited. I cannot wait to go back to China and share this experience with Matt and Blake this time.

Anyone have any ideas for the gift for the Officials in China??????

Friday, March 26, 2010

What a Wonderful Surprise

I am beyond excited this morning. Anneli who is an intern at New Day sent us this video she took of Drew on his birthday. This is priceless! We are SO blessed.

This is of Drew opening the gift we sent him.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Black & Wednesday ~ Birthday Boy

As much as I would like to take credit for this picture, I can't. Drew turned 4 on March 11, but these pictures were taken just yesterday. Rather than celebrate each child's birthday, New Day celebrates all the birthday at once.

Drew got his birthday package from us about a week ago, but they asked us if he could open it during the party which we didn't mind one bit.

Enjoy the pictures, I know we sure are. Although I did not take the below picture, I did enhance it for Black and White Wednesday.

This little dog dances around and sings "Who Let the Dogs Out."

Oh how I LOVE that face. I cannot wait to kiss those cheeks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Drumroll Please....

Wow! I seriously cannot believe we were able to raise $5,328.25! That. Is. Amazing. I am completely blown away by that number.

Before I annouce the winners, I want to take just a minute to thank each and everyone of YOU who helped us reach $5,328.75. Each one of YOU are such a blessing to our family. Some of YOU are friends, some are family, and some of YOU are complete strangers. Whoever your are, YOU have not only made a difference in the lives of two boys, but you have made a difference to our whole family. Because of YOU, we will travel to China to bring home not one, but two boys who desperately need a home, a family, someone to kiss them good night and tell them "I love you." YOU did that. So, go on, pat your self on the back, you deserve it.

Thank you so much for bringing us one step closer to a family of 8 (I can't believer we are going to be a family of 8). Thank you to those who donated, those who spread the word, those who left comments, and those who prayed.

So, here is how this is going to work. There are a total of 37 prizes. I will draw 37 names, the first winner will get to pick the prize they want, then the second winner will pick what is left, and so on and so forth until all the names have been drawn. If I contact you to let you know you have won, I will also include an updated list of items that are still available. Please do not hesitate to e-mail me if you have ANY questions.

1. Jean Mulvahill
2. William Hagerdon
3. Brian Girdwood
4. Samantha Rawson
5. Norma Wilson
6. Gerald Hammersley
7. Denise Corbari
8. Peggy Heller
9. Kathleen Denny
10. William Hagerdon
11. Mandie Metier
12. Valerie Almquist
13. Jennifer Welsh
14. Gwen Wride
15. Jean Mulvahill
16. Carla Lambert
17. Gerald Hammersley
18. Mandy Murphy
19. Melanie Mannos
20. Zara Griswold
21. Kristen Jackson
22. Gerald Hammersley
23. Lisa Lansford
24. Melanie Mannos
25. Kristin Tadlock
26. Samantha Rawson
27. M Womble
28. Brian Girdwood
29. Jean Muvahill
30. Elwood Gupton
31. Kristi Tolman
32. Susan Gerow
33. Kate Nowland
34. Amy Miller
35. Brandi Thomas
36. Kimberly Brunton
37. Christine Berringer

I have had several ask me if I will keep the Chip In button on my blog because they are waiting on their taxes to come back . Yes, I will be putting it back up there, but unfortunately I will not be able to give anything away this time. Although we raised a ton of money, our ultimate goal was to reach $9500.00 to cover expenses. So, the new chip in will reflect the amount we still need.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What A Surprise!

We were surprised yesterday with updated measurements, pictures, and more information about Jaxon. As soon as we received our LOA our agency sent over a letter we had written to Jaxon introducing our family to him and asking him some questions. Our agency told us not to expect much, so you can imagine all of our excitement and surprise when we got everything we asked for yesterday.

We told Jaxon about the family and he seems very excited. He said although he doesn’t know who they are yet, he is excited about having little brothers and sisters, and a family. Here are his responses to the family’s questions: he is currently going to second grade in junior middle school (translator: equivalent to 8th grade in the U.S.), he likes the subject of Language Arts, besides reading comic books he also likes playing basketball and listening to music, as well as reading books and playing video games. PE is his most favorite class. He would like to have pictures of his new family so he can get to know them more. We have attached a few pictures of Jaxon, they are taken inside the orphanage and his bedroom. I hope the family will enjoy the photos. Jaxon's current measurements are: height 175cm, weight 62.5kg, head circumference 80cm, chest circumference 81.5cm. (His measurements translate to about 5'7 and 137.5 pounds).

When Emma heard his interests, this was her response "Mom, we like everything the same, we have so much in common. Can I send him a picture that drew?" She is just the sweetest. She and I went out last night to get a photo album, and we also bought him a sketch pad, pencils, and some candy.

We are so excited about bringing home Drew and Jaxon, we cannot wait to have them in our family. Click here to for Drew's story, and here for Jaxon's.

Fundraiser Update: The fundraiser end tonight at midnight so if you haven't had a chance to check out all the amazing prizes go here. We are currently at 40%!!!! Anyone who donated today will get 2 extra entries!!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thankful Thursday ~ Laminin and Faith

I saw this on another blog yesterday and was completely blown away by it. I actually got chills as I was watching it. It is about nine minutes, but so worth it, you will NOT be disappointed.

Fundraiser Update: WOW! We are getting closer, dollar by dollar. We are now at 39%!

When I originally started the fundraiser it was solely to help us bring Drew home. Early on in our adoption process Matt was laid off, a substantial grant for Drew was withdrawn, and we continued to hit road block after road blog. Despite all of that and the fact that most people thought we were out of our minds, we continued to do whatever it took to bring our son home. Just before Christmas Matt went back to work (Praise God), and doors began to creep open however, we had a long way to go. Being laid off for a few months really put a strain on our finances leaving nothing left to put back for adoption expenses.

So shortly after Christmas I decided to put together an online fundraiser like no other. Unfortunately we didn't have the money to go out and buy an expensive camera, or laptop, so I had to get creative. It took me several weeks to make contact with people who were willing to donate something for us to give away. Originally the fundraiser was to last two weeks, but as soon as we heard about Jaxon, I had no choice but to extend it.

I had no idea that we would be fundraising to bring two boys home. I had no idea that we would be racing against a clock that continues to tick faster and faster, regardless of our situation. I had no idea that so many people would open their hearts to help us, support us, and pray for us. I certainly did not expect to have my heart or Matt's opened to adopt an older boy and I believe that is why God used Blake to show us that we need to set our fears aside and trust in Him.

"The One who calls you is faithful, and He will make it happen" I. Thes. 5:24

The other day as I was filling out yet another grant application one of the questions asked was "when do you expect to travel?" Without thinking I began typing what my response has been all along, "the first of April." Then I realized that no, we would not be traveling then, but more like the end of April. So as I deleted it and begin to fill in the correct answer I thought for a moment that if we weren't bringing Jaxon home, we would probably more than likely be meeting our Drew in just a few weeks. If we weren't bringing Jaxon home, we would only be a couple of thousand short instead of almost six thousand short. I stopped for a minute, sat back in the chair and realized that what we are doing is not about the money, or the fact that we will travel a little later than we had hoped. It's not about how we will feed, clothe and put six kids through school. It's not about the fears, the concerns, or even the challenges and unknowns that lay ahead of us. What this all boils down to is this, when He called, we answered.

It's no secret that when we began the process to adopt Mylee we had only enough to get us started (application fee and home study). As one door closed, another seemed to open and we were able to bring Mylee home completely on our own. I knew before I left China that I would be back, it was just a matter of convincing Matt. For those who don't know, when I first approached him about Drew he was adamant that we were done. "No more" he said. A few days later he came to me and said that he had been thinking, "if this is what God is telling you to do, if this is what you are supposed to do, then who am I to stand in your way." The next day I requested Drew's file. Of course I had to promise that this was it, we were done with Drew. So, you can imagine my surprise when he said yes to Jaxon.

My faith has been completely renewed because of adoption. Faith has been such a big part of our adoption process. Without it, there is no way we would have been able to climb every mountain, jump every hurdle, and bust through every wall. Without it there is no way we could have come this far, this close to parenting 6 kids (I still can't believe I am about to have 6 kids). Recently we were asked to write a statement of faith for a grant application. At first I was a little hesitant, I had never had to actually put down on paper what my faith meant, but as I sat in front of the computer, I was amazed at how quickly and easy it was to do.

Faith is something that I have always been around. Being raised Catholic I went to a Catholic school, took all of my sacraments (baptism, first communion and confirmation), and sat in Church every weekend. As a child I don't think I really got it, but now as an adult with children of my own, I get it and do my best to make sure my kids get it. But if I am being completely honest, it wasn't until we started the process to bring our daughter home from China that I really and truly began to understand my faith and knowing that it is my faith in God that made it possible to bring her home. Before Mylee I sat in Church, but didn't really listen to what was being said. I acted out all the motions simply out of habit, not really aware that I was doing it or why. I took and accepted the body and blood of Christ simply because that is what we are supposed to do.

Please don't misunderstand what I am trying to say. Mylee's adoption changed something in me that I didn't really even know needed to be changed. It was through the ups and downs of financing her adoption that I really started to understand fully what it meant to have faith. It was during that time that I really started paying attention to what was being said, that I didn't just make the sign of the cross out of habit but out of love. I no longer accept the body and blood of Christ because I am supposed to, but because I want to. I get it now, and it is that faith, love, and devotion for God that is getting us through the ups and downs of Drew's adoption.

God planted the seed of adoption in my heart many years ago, at that time I had no idea that is was Him. I just thought it was selfish on my part to want a Chinese daughter. It wasn't long into our adoption that I realized that He was the one who planted the seed, and He was the one who sat next to us on the roller coaster of emotions. He was the one who was there with us as we were faced with another hurdle to jump. He was the one who as a brick wall was placed in front of us, knocked it down with us.

So, it is with complete faith that we stepped out to adopt Drew and now Jaxon. It is complete faith in our God that we are doing exactly what He wants us to. Not only do we have faith in Him, but He must have faith in us as well for not only entrusting us with three biological children, but with three more children that he put on this earth especially for us and our family.

We have 43 days (actually less if you figure in travel) to not only come up with the rest of the money, but to get 6 months of paperwork done as well. Is it possible? Absolutely! Why? Because we have complete faith that we are doing the right thing and that God is going to be there every step of the way.

Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Black and White Wednesday ~ My Kids

It's Wednesday and you all know what that means, Black and White Wednesday. For more on B&W Wednesday head on over to Lisa's blog for some amazing pictures. I had to go back through the archives for most of my pictures today because I wanted to share a little about each of my kids. Rather than start from oldest to youngest, I thought I would start with the youngest today.

DREW ~ Although we haven't met him yet, we know that he is going to fit in our family perfectly. Drew just turned 4 on March 11. As much as I prayed and hoped we would be together with him for his special day, I know without a doubt we will celebrate his next birthday as well as many, many more. Drew is a loving, caring boy, affectionate boy. He loves to help his foster mother around the house and is quick to announce he is a "big boy." He likes to make silly faces. Drew likes to sing, count, tell us his colors, he is a very smart little boy.
We cannot wait to bring him home and truly begin enjoying him. We realize the first few days, weeks, and even months may be difficult on Drew having been taken away from the only life he has ever known. He has a very strong bond with one of the New Day staff as well as Adahlynn. We know saying good bye is going to be difficult for him and all those who have grown to love him.

MYLEE ~ She is a dream come true. For as long as I can remember I have dreamed about having a Chinese daughter. Witht he love and support of Matt we were able to turn that dream into a reality on May 8, 2008 (Mother's Day). She is a beautiful, smart, spunky, silly, little girl. Mylee loves to color and play with her babies. She loves to sing and dance and has an incredible imagination. She is a fighter, and will let nothing get in her way. I cannot wait to see what great things she does in her life. She adores her big sister Emma and wants her to read her a book every night before going to bed. Most nights I can find them in the same bed together. Mylee's new thing to say is "When I get big like Emma..." Mylee is very proud to be Chinese and loves anything to do with China and it's culture. Many people have expressed that she is going to be the on who is most affected by bringing Drew home. I don't know why, but I am not worried at all. I see Mylee being very "protective" of Drew even though she is half his size. She is going to be a great big sister.

GABE ~ Oh how I love this guy. Gabe is 5, I mean 5 1/2. He no longer tolerates being told he is 5, and is very quick to correct you. He is probably our most affectionate child. He gives the best hugs. He is always the first in line for kisses and hugs before bed or if we are leaving. He loves to snuggle up right next to me on the couch. Gabe doesn't have much of a sense of humor, in fact, he is quite serious. Gabe's middle name is Philip after my dad (he passed away last May) and he likes to talk about his Grandpa. Gabe loves Blake and spends most days following him around. He has the funniest facial expressions, they crack me up. Gabe is probably the most excited about bringing Drew home. He asks all the time if it is time to get him yet. He desperately wants someone closer to his age to play with. Gabe is going to make an excellent big brother and I cannot wait to see Gabe and Drew playing together.

EMMA ~ When I was pregnant with Emma I secretly prayed over and over for a little girl. I had several ultrasounds during my pregnancy but not one revealed what I was having. I finally convinced myself that I was having another boy, in fact, we didn't really have a girl's name picked out. As soon as I heard the doctor say "it's a girl," I remember asking him to check again because I wanted to make absolute sure. Because we were certain we were having another boy, she didn't have name for about an hour after being born. We finally agreed on Emma Grace. Emma is a very special little girl. She is quite girly, but has no problems getting down and dirty with the boys. She's quite artistic and loves anything crafty. Emma loves spending time with me. Usually once a week we do something together, just the two of us. She can be very shy but once she opens up, look out. Emma loves to read and write books. I can't even begin to tell you how many books she has made through the years. Emma will make her first Communion this year and is very excited. She is a great role model for Mylee and will be for Drew as well.

When Emma learned that we were also adopting a 13 year old boy, she said "hey, that's not fair, I want a sister who is 8." We told her that Drew and Jaxon were probably going to be it for awhile. Her response "does that mean there are no more kids that need homes?" Oh how I love this girl.

BLAKE ~ Blake made me a mom. He is the one who paved the way for the rest of the kids. I was terrified when I had Blake. Matt was in the military and was actually deployed 3 days after I had him. I had never really been around babies before, but looking back, it amazes me how this natural insticnt just kicks in. I guess it helped that Blake was such a good baby. Blake and I have a pretty close relationship. If he has something he needs to talk about he usually comes to me. If I know he needs to talk about something, I am usually the once who can get it out of him. Blake loves football and is quite good at it. He is very smart and loves to learn. Blake is pretty mature for his age which is why we have let him be a big part of the process to adopt Jaxon. He has a great sense of humor which he obviously gets from me. Although Blake is only 13, he looks more like he is 15. He is taller than me (I believe he is 6 foot now). Blake is quite the social butterfly, always has been. If you ask him what he wants to be someday his response is a Lawyer and has been since he was in the first grade. Blake is a great kid, he sticks up for the underdog, he is outgoing and funny. He is very handsome.

Blake is the one who "pushed" Matt and I into moving forward with Jaxon's adoption. Honestly, adopting an older boy is something we said we would never do. However, God used Blake to prove us wrong. On the way home from the pasta dinner benefit Matt and Blake were talking about how much money we had raised. Matt told Blake that although we raised alot of money, we still needed quite a bit more, Blake's response was "that just means God has another plan, another way for us to get the money." How can you not be proud of you kids when they say things like that?

JAXON ~ I know this is what you have all been waiting for, a picture of our newest member. This is Jaxon we are told that he will be 14 on May 1, but we honestly believe he is older. Although we don't know much about him, what we do know, and the most important thing is that he needs and wants a family. He wants to be a Cartoonist some day and is quite artistic. Emma wants him to teach her to draw better. He goes to school and is said to be quite athletic, especially in basketball and track and has even won some awards. He seems to be quite shy (he is going to have to come out of his shell quickly to survive in this family). He likes to help out with the younger kids. He is quite a handsome young man and we cannot wait to travel to bring him home and make him a part of our family.

We know adding him to our family may be difficult. It is going to be scary for all of us. Although Jaxon has expressed that he wants a family, we realize that it is going to be most difficult on him. He will most likely grieve, shut down, and become quite withdrawn. However, Matt and I are 100% committed to making this work and to allowing Jaxon become a member of our family. Although adopting two children at once is not something we set out at doing, we are excited and committed to watching Drew and Jaxon thrive and grow with our family.

If adoption has taught us anything it is that you must have faith. It is our faith that has gotten us this far, and it is our faith that is going to be what brings us all together. Never in a million years did I think I would have 6 kids. However, Matt and I are firm believers that God only gives us what we can handle. And if He thinks we can handle 6 kids, then we can, and we will. One way or another, we WILL be a family of 8 very soon.

We officially received our LOA for Jaxon yesterday, which means China has officially granted us approval to bring both boys home. Now we have to get through our immigration. Basically we have less than 6 weeks to get done what has taken us about 6 months to do with Drew. We are confident we can make that deadline, there really isn't any other choice. Really our two biggest hurdles are immigration and money. I hate to say it, but yes, money is still an issue. We are now at 35% on our fundraiser which is great. I honestly never though we would get that far. We have been completely blow away by the amount of support we have received from the adoption community, friends, family, and complete strangers. It is because of all that support that we WILL without a doubt make this happen.

Just an update on the fundraiser. Friday at midnight is the last day so if you want to make sure to get your name is for some super prizes, head on over and make a donation. Any amount, nothing is too small. Every dollar brings us one step closer to our boys.

Bringing Home Our Boys

With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

Many of you know that we are lucky enough to live in the same town as several other kiddos from the same orphanage as Mylee. We were all within months of bringing our kids home so we have become very close. We get all the kids together once a month to play and us moms also get together once a month to chat. Anyway, when they heard we were still short quite a bit of money, they all rallied around and put together a pasta dinner and silent auction benefit for us. The dinner was held this past Saturday and was a huge success. Let me back up a bit.

When I was first approached about the idea of doing a benefit dinner, I was not at all thrilled. Why? Plain and simple I was not comfortable with the idea of asking people to come to a dinner and donate money. The thought of this was way beyond my comfort level. I shared with the ladies that I wasn't sure about the whole thing and I was pretty much shut down with a "you don't have much of a choice" response. So, I found myself sucking up my pride as I have found myself doing alot with this adoption(s). Within days we pretty much had everything planned and the donations for the silent auction were rolling in. I think we put the whole thing together in about three weeks. We were able to get almost everything we needed donated; food, paper products, desert, silent auction items, and even the building. My neighbor even put together a bake sale with the help of her family who drove about 2 hours to donate their time and baked goods.

At one point during the evening I stopped to look around at all the people that were there. I was able to pick out some familiar faces, family, and friends, but the majority of people in attendance were complete strangers to Matt and I. These were people who heard our story from a friend or family member and were compelled to come out and support us. People that although we may never see again we owe a great deal to. People that because of their generosity we are one step closer to bringing our boys home. People who "get it."

As the evening came to an end, and the money was being counted I couldn't help tearing up as each check, dollar, or coin was being counted. We were completely blown away when the total was announced. I am so happy to report that we are $4,800 closer to bringing our boys home. We still need quite a bit, but we are so much closer, and that is what counts.

Last night was e-mailing on the ladies that helped out to thank them for all their hard work and determination in making this a successful event, and hopefully the first of many. The words thank you just didn't seem like they were enough. I mean how do you really thank someone for something like this (as of last night I still didn't have an answer)? This morning as I was getting the kids off to school, it dawned on me. The one and only way to truly thank everyone is to do exactly what we set out to do, bring our boys home.

We are still short money, and honestly, it terrifies me that we are going to get the okay to travel and we are not going to have enough money. We didn't set out to bring home two boys, but that is what God has laid before us, so who are we to tell Him no. The bottom line is no matter what, we HAVE to bring them home, both of them. What terrifies me the most is that we are Jaxon's last chance at having a family. If we don't make it there in time, or if we can't come up with the money, Jaxon (this is what we are calling him) will never know what it is to have a real family, he may never hear the words "I love, son."

So, with our online fundraiser ending THIS Friday, I am once again asking for help. As of right now we are at 35% which I am ecstatic about however, it is not enough. So, if you have already donated, thank you, thank you, thank you. If you have already blogged about the fundraiser on your blog, can you do it again? If you keep telling yourself, "I will do it later", please don't wait, later may be too late. I know I sound like I am begging, and I guess in a sense I am, but when I think of the alternative, it just isn't an option so I am pulling out the big guns today, I am digging deep and asking you to please help us in bringing two boys home, two boys who both need families, two boys who will no longer be called orphans.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Surprised That Even Surprised Us

One thing is for sure, when Matt and I started the process to adopt Drew we had no idea the twists and turns that would be involved. But with every door that closed, another was opened. Adoption is not easy, in fact, it can be quite difficult physically and emotionally. However, the end result is worth the sacrifices, the worry, the unknowns, the up and downs, and anything else in between. I cannot imagine our family without Mylee and I am sure Drew is going to bring us just as much joy.

Disclaimer: Rather than drag this out over several posts I have decided to just let it all out in one. Therefore, if you can stick it out, you will not be disappointed. So, grab a cup o Joe, or in my case a diet coke, get comfy and enjoy.

I can't help but wonder what happens to those who may never have a chance at a family. Those that because their "special need" is too scary for some may never know what it means to be loved. Those that slip through the cracks for whatever reason. Then there are those that may be completely healthy, but because they are older will most likely age out and never know what it means to be a part of a real family.

I remember when we visited Mylee's orphanage I didn't see any of the older kids, we were only able to visit the areas where our children lived. But I couldn't help but wonder what happened to those that were "left behind." I remember asking our guide and she quietly said "some may be able to work for the orphanage if they can provide a service, very few may have the opportunity to go to school, but most will live on the streets." You see, in China once a child turns 14 they are no longer to be adopted therefore, their future is grim.

Orphans are considered "unlucky" or "cursed" in the Chinese culture. They have very few opportunities to go to school. If they do get to go to school they attend the lowest level of schools because parents who pay for their kids to go to school don't want their kids going with the "unlucky orphans." However, there are a few who are fortunate enough to be sponsored and are able to go on to college. Just because they have an education does not mean they will be able to get a job. Many businesses will not employ them once they find out they were an orphan because of the "unlucky" orphan stigma.

The Chinese are very big on family. In fact, many of their holidays revolve around family. Can you imagine being completely alone? I mean really alone? Just think about it for a minute. Who do you run to when you have exciting news to share? Who do you lean on when you need to cry? Who do you call "family?" Those orphans that never get the opportunity for a family have no one to run home to, they have no shoulder to cry on, they have no one to spend holidays with. They. Have. No. One.

So, even though living in the orphanage may not be ideal, to them, it is all they have. They have food and they shelter, Once they are 16 (unless they are one of the fortunate ones), they are released to fend for themselves in a society that "fears" them because they may be "unlucky." 16! Seriously, can you imagine at the age of 16 being forced to provide for yourself? At the age of 16 having no one to guide you or to care? At 16, these are still children. Children who have absolutely no idea how to survive on the streets and unfortunately, many of them don't

I know I am painting a grim picture, but this is reality. While we sit in our nice, warm, posh homes, there are thousands of orphans who are getting ready to age out. Children that because of their age may never have the opportunity for an education. Children that may never know what it feels like to be tucked in and kissed good night. Children who may never hear the words, I love you." Children that because we are scared, scared to step out of our comfort zone, who may never know what it means to be part of a family.

So, here it is, the surprise that even we were surprised about...

A couple of weeks ago we were sent a mass generated e-mail from our agency who was advocating for a 13 year old boy who is about to age out on May 1. Honestly, I never really thought much about it until Blake (our 13 year old) asked what I was looking at. I shared the information with him and his initial reaction was “can we get him?” Obviously my immediate response was “no, we can’t afford, we are still trying to come up with the money for Drew, plus we are getting Drew.” Having a brother closer to his age is something that Blake has asked for since we started looking at the possibility of adopting after Mylee. Unbeknown st to me, Blake forwarded the e-mail to Matt’s account with the message “dad, this could be my bro.” Not knowing the impact this e-mail would have on Matt and I later, we both deleted the information from our inbox.

Over the weekend I noticed several other families advocating for this boy on blogs as well as Rumor Queen. I generally don’t get on RQ on the weekends, but for some reason I couldn’t help checking to see if someone had requested his file. I was disappointed and saddened that no one had stepped forward but I also knew there was no way we could afford two adoptions at once plus adopting a 13 year old boy was something I said I would never do.

On Tuesday I e-mailed our agency to follow up that we were still on track with Drew’s paperwork being submitted to the Consulate in Guangzhou. I am not sure exactly what I put, but I did ask if the boy who was aging out had found his family. I quickly got a response, “no.” And then a few minutes later I received an e-mail asking if we would like more information. Although my head was telling me no, by fingers were typing yes. After a few e-mails back and forth and talking on the phone I quickly realized that this may be doable if I could get Matt on board.

That night I waited until just the right moment to bring it up and as soon as I did Matt’s knee jerk response was “no, are you kidding me? I cannot believe you would even ask, we don't even have the money for one adoption and you are planning on two?" Honestly I was not surprised since that was his initial response with Mylee and Drew’s adoption. I knew he was right, what was I thinking? I didn't want to push the issue because I knew that it would just end in an argument, so I let it go. Later that night I crawled into bed and started to check my e-mail. Matt rolled over and said "okay, let me see his picture and what do you know about him?" After hours of going back and forth, discussing the pros and the cons, we decided to go ahead and ask for permission to bring home two children at once.

Later that night I got onto our agency's waiting children's' list to see if he was on there. I'm not sure why, but for some reason I just needed to see if he was on there. As soon as I scrolled down and found his picture I got chills. I generally don't click for more details on the waiting kids because I knew that was not something Matt and I were comfortable with. However, a couple of weeks ago as I was looking at the kids, I did click on a picture, a picture of an older boy. I even said to myself, "what are you doing?" That picture, and the picture that I was staring at way the exact same boy. At that moment I had this tremendous sense of peace come over me. It was that exact moment that I knew we were doing the right thing.

The next day I sent all the necessary paperwork to our pediatrician to look over. Luckily he was able to get back to me quickly saying everything looked good. I also spent most of the day contacting other families through blog world that have or are in the process of adopting not just an older child, but who are adopting two unrelated children at once. I have been amazed at how much support and information I have been given by strangers.

Matt and I have spent the last few days talking and praying about adding an older child to our family. Blake is most excited because he will finally have someone his age around the house. He comes home everyday from school asking if we have heard anything. Blake is an excellent big brother and if anyone can help this boy to adjust, it is Blake.

On March 1st, our agency put in a request asking CCAA if we could adopt two children at once. We waited not so patiently for an answer. On Friday, we got the call saying that they had pre-approved us. Basically this means that CCAA is giving us permission to adopt tow children, but we still have to submit our Letter of Intent and get our LOA. Our LOI was submitted on Friday and we are hoping to get the final approval this week. I asked our agency if this was good news, and her reply was "yes, this is great news. Every time we have been given pre-pre-approval we have been sent an LOA soon after." She also gave me the go ahead to post on my blog about our newest addition to our family.

We are thrilled that we are being given the opportunity to adopt two children at once and that is why we are pouring our heart into doing everything we can to bring him home. When we stepped out in Faith to adopt Drew we had no idea we would be going down this path. Although adopting two children at once is not something we set out at doing, we are excited and committed to watching these two boys thrive and grow with our family.

Adopting an older child, especially a boy is something I said I would never do. However, when I look at his picture, and I really look into his eyes, I see a boy. A boy who needs a family. A boy who needs to be told he is loved. A boy who needs to be given every opportunity to succeed. A boy that I cannot wait to call my son.

If adoption has taught me anything, it has taught me that as long as I have faith, He will make it happen. So, it is with absolute faith that we are once again stepping out and being obedient to Him by opening our home and our hearts to this child.

With all of that being said, we are in a race against time. We have to be in China before May 1 which is when he turns 14. We have less than two months to get done what has taken us almost a year to do with Drew. The ball is already in place and rolling. Our agency is certain this can and will be done, so we are moving forward as well. (Until we officially have our LOA we cannot post his entire picture or name).

We are blessed that most of the fees for the second child have been waived or donated, but we do need to come up with his travel fees. So, once again I am asking for your help. I am extending the fundraiser and I have increased our need to cover his travel fees. Matt and I are 100% confident in seeing this through and we would like nothing more than to have you all join us on our newest journey.

Thank you to those who have donated or spread the word about our . However, we need your help again. We need to spread the word. So, if you have already blogged about our fundraiser on your blog, thank you. But, if you blog about it again, I will give you another entry into the fundraiser. Just leave me a comment letting me know you have done this. If you have thought about donating and keep saying I will do it later (I have done this myself), unfortunately, later may be too late. We are in a serious time crunch here and appreciate any and all help we can get.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Black and White Wednesday ~ 15 Years

Fifteen years ago today Matt and I said "I do." I remember the day like it was yesterday. We were married in the courthouse by a judge because on March 7 Matt was leaving for basic training and we wanted to get married before he left. I was terrified, but knew we were doing the right thing.

These past years have been filled with laughter, tears, hope, fear, peace, frustration, excitement, disappointment, relief, sadness, anger, relief, forgiveness, anticipation, surprises, optimism, remorse, love, satisfaction, stress, panic, pride, fun, hurt, care, confusion, passion, security, and so much more.

We are by no means a perfect couple (sorry to disappoint). We fight, we make up. We make mistakes, we apologize. We laugh with each other (and sometimes at each other), we cry with each other. We may not always agree with each other, but we always support each other. We are there to listen to each others hopes, fears, and dreams. We are there for the good times, and the bad. We know that no matter what we can count on each other even when we can count on no one else.

Matt is my rock, he is my everything. I cannot imagine my life without him. He has allowed me to grow into the person I am today. He has helped me obtain my dreams. He encourages me like no one else can. He is a wonderful father and works very hard to provide for his family. But above all that, he loves me like no one else does.

In 15 years we have been through a lot. We have lived apart, we have in different states and even a different country. We are soon going to be the parents of 5 kids. Never in a million years did I think I would have 5 kids (who knows, maybe we will add one more). I look forward to the next 15+ years to see what they bring for us. I know that as long as Matt is there beside me to hold my hand and kiss me good night, it can only bring good things.

Happy Anniversary, Matt, I love you more and more each day.

Just to let everyone know, there has been another donation made to the fundraising site so hop on over and check it out.